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Survival

Happy International Youth Day 2016

image_98_international-youth-day International Youth Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999. August 12th is marked worldwide as a day to celebrate youth in our communities. Young people drive our society forward with new technology, media, entertainment and inspiration. Internationally, more and more young children and teenagers are taught to read, given access to the Internet, and given a chance to flourish within and outside their communities. Because of this, the younger generation is not just presently affecting our world but will affect the future too.

Across the world, countries are recognizing the importance of nourishing and growing young citizens into successful adults. Success is not only rated by money and accomplishment but also by happiness and quality of life. Because of this, it is now becoming more and more important to children a solid foundation of values, respect and structure. According to a 2012 study by Princeton University, youth who have adverse childhood experiences, such as physical or sexual abuse, abandonment, and emotional and physical neglect, have a higher risk of depression and suicide attempts and are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, sexually transmitted diseases. This same study says these children are more likely to turn to cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. The authors of Does Child Abuse Cause Crime? find that child maltreatment roughly doubles the probability that an individual engages in many types of crime.

So how do you fix this growing epidemic? This is the question children’s shelters are answering across the nation. According to a report by Paxson and Waldfogel (1999, 2002) abuse and neglect are more common in families and communities of lower socioeconomic status. In neighborhoods like these, when programs for children are implemented and these kids have a safe place to turn to they are more likely to succeed. The positive influence children’s shelters have is spread beyond their residents and into the communities they serve.

The residents at Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter are just like thousands of other foster children throughout the United States who are looking for a safe and nurturing environment where they have the ability to succeed. Here they are able to play after school sports, join clubs, and get part time jobs. They get homework help and medical and mental health care. Our teens learn independent living sills so they are prepared to live on their own after leaving Palmetto Place. They’re surrounded by positive influences who want to see that child or teen be the best versions of themselves.

So how can you get involved in showing these kids they can succeed on this International Youth Day? Making a donation to a local children’s shelter like Palmetto Place is the best way to show these children you care. Here your dollar goes farther, we are tax exempt and often get reduced prices and discounts at stores. Another way you can help is by hosting a donation drive and collecting items from our wish list. The same items that are on your grocery list are on ours, just in a much larger quantity. Check our webpage for volunteer opportunities and other ways you can help out!

 

 

Esperanza Gala: DACA Scholarship Initative

The University of South Carolina Colony of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Incorporated is excited about our 1st Annual fundraising event, Esperanza Gala and Art Auction. In order for this event to be successful, we are donating 100% of the proceeds raised from ticket sales and donations towards the cause from supporters in our community. The positive response will allow us to create a DACA Scholarship Fund aiding low-income applicants. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an American immigration policy that provides temporary relief from deportation and a renewable 2-year work permit for qualified young adults who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. If approved, DACA-mented youth can receive a Social Security Number, a Driver’s License, eligibility for higher education, apply for jobs,

We firmly believe that communities become great and businesses thrive where opportunity is deemed important, because the lives of its citizens are enriched. The USC Colony of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Incorporated seeks to provide such enrichment to the community by promoting educational, cultural, civic, and economic opportunities for Undocumented youth through this initiative. We believe, through this financial scholarship we can cultivate the skills and talents of high school students to become leaders for the betterment of their communities.

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Follow these links to buy tickets and donate to our gofundme page.

https://www.gofundme.com/KDChiEsperanzaGala

http://kdchiesperanzagala.ticketleap.com/esperanza-gala-daca-scholarship-initative/

 

Palmetto Place is Family

Monday evenings are my favorite time during the work week because all of our teens pile into my office (and eat all of my candy) to tell me about their weekend and funny stories – along with the dozens of needs they each have for the week. Last Monday, as they were telling me about bank accounts, W-2s, job interviews, extra credit stuff, etc., one of them stopped and said "Ms. Jill, you know we all have so many needs as juniors and seniors, but I need for you to put one thing at the top of your list for tomorrow. Hannah, (a new 9th grade resident who is very quiet, humble, and sweet, who was in the house doing her homework) needs a new pair of shoes. She'll never tell you because she's so quiet, but I think she would like a new pair that are a little more girly than the pair she has. I can find out what size she wears for you."

Although I promised I’d put it at the top of my list, that wasn’t enough. They made me show them where I moved her need to the top of my to-do list sticky note. Then I tried to sing "We're all in this together" from High School Musical, but they weren't having it.

This is why I love my job. Because, even though I have 9 high schoolers that drive me absolutely insane all week, they support and love each other in a way that can never be described. Even though they'll never admit it, we're all family at Palmetto Place.

Written by Jill Lawson Director of Case Management

Sharing Samantha's Story

One of our volunteers put together a video about one of our former residents, Samantha, and her journey from homelessness to success. We are so proud of Samantha and all of her hard work!

Samantha came to us during her senior year in high school. She had been living with her family in a church’s Sunday School classroom. After Samantha’s graduation, the church notified her family that the classroom was no longer available for them to sleep in. They had to move out immediately. That’s when Samantha found Palmetto Place.

When she started college in fall 2013, Samantha’s Palmetto Place family took her shopping for dorm supplies. They took her to lunch on her first day and then said teary goodbyes. They were like any normal family – just a bit more unconventional.

Today, Samantha still comes “home” on the weekends. She plays with the younger children and tutors the older ones. We taught her how to drive and helped her buy her first car.

We asked Samantha to tell us what happened to some of her homeless friends. She replied, “All of the homeless teens I’ve met were from Palmetto Place and they’re all doing well for themselves.”

Samantha knows many, however, who weren’t so lucky. “Some kids from my old neighborhoods haven’t gotten the support I did at Palmetto Place. They are in prison, on their third child, or doing illegal things to get money.”

“Palmetto Place gives a chance to kids like me to make something of ourselves.” Samantha will always remember her time here fondly, as it led her to realize that “there are people out there who care about us and want us to succeed. Thank you!”

Learning New Names

I learn so much more from Palmetto Place than I will ever be able to teach. This proves itself to me time and time again, particularly when I need a reminder of what's important (and thank you, God, for those reminders). This week's lesson was about learning names. We have wonderful houseparents and other staff caring for our children, but I think it must be overwhelming and challenging for a new kiddo to learn all of our names and learn -- quickly -- that we are all going to keep this child safe and provide love. A new little girl arrived on Sunday, scared and in pain inside and out. We have surrounded her with love. Our houseparents have served the role of aunt, sister, cousin, friend, teacher and, maybe most importantly, nurse. As we've cared for this child each day - just Sunday, Monday and Tuesday so far - we have all turned 100% of our focus and concern and prayers to her.

Yesterday afternoon, the kids were coloring Easter eggs from coloring books. Each egg had an initial on and the kids were picking out a J for Mrs. Jackie and Ms. Jenny, a V for Mrs. Vera, a G for Mrs. Gloria, a T for Mrs. Thelma, etc. And then this quiet little voice spoke up and said "and an M for Ms. Matilda and an E for Mrs. Erin." And she kept going with names. My heart sang! In the midst of her pain and trauma, she knew our names! She had learned so quickly who was taking care of her! We'd earned her trust!

Easter eggs

And then I knew, she was going to be ok. Sweat the small things. It's always the small things that our kids remember. One day she'll remember that Palmetto Place was a happy place and that an amazing group of houseparents with hearts as big as the whole wide world loved her and took care of her when she needed it.

~~ Erin Hall, Executive Director

An Inside Look at Palmetto Place

Today's post comes from Victoria Infinger, our communications intern.  

You've heard our mission statement: Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter provides a safe and nurturing environment for abused and neglected children and unaccompanied teens, offering them a broad range of services concentrating on personal healing and development. The shelter is open 24 hours each day of the year and provides medical and mental health care, crisis adjustment/transitional counseling, after-school tutoring and recreational and social activities in addition to food, clothing and shelter.

But what are a few days in the life of the shelter actually like?

Day 1: The Call 

One of the most common questions people ask is where our children come from.  It’s hard to pin-point an exact place where our residents come from, but it’s easiest to tell you that they come from referrals.  Sometimes children come to us from DSS, and sometimes they come from law enforcement, other shelters, or schools.  If we are able to serve the child, Palmetto Place will apply for more information and attend court.  DSS determines the process needed to help the family and the child.

“It is our job to protect these kids,” says Jill Lawson, our director of client services.

This is just the first step in protecting them.

Day 2: The Child

Abuse: (verb) To treat a person with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly. 

Defining abuse is easy to put into words on a computer screen, but abuse materializes into many different forms when it rings your doorbell in the form of a child.

Each story is different.  Each child is different.  They vary from the child whose mother dropped him off on his birthday saying, “Happy birthday. I don’t want you anymore” to the youth whose back is covered with gashes from a belt dipped in hot wax.  Sometimes the story goes as simply as the family was not capable of taking care of the child.

When children are lucky, they come to us with everything they own stuffed into a black garbage bag.  Most children arrive empty handed, not wanting to bring anything back from “home.”

Palmetto Place then shows the child to their room.  One resident recalls fondly a group of small children rushing to hug and welcome her.  At the time, she didn't know a single face.

Day 3: The Breakdown

Moving is hard, especially if you've lost sense of what is home.

Jessica, one of Palmetto Place’s board members, recalled an afternoon in which she and her family had taken the shelter out for pizza and games.  A young girl tugged on her arm and whispered, “I want to go home.”  She didn't realize that this was the girl’s first day at the shelter, and when she said “home,” she meant her home before Palmetto Place.

This is where our houseparents come to the rescue.  We have Ms. Jenny, our lead houseparent, who swooped the girl into her arms and told her that Palmetto Place was a castle, and she got to be the princess.

Day 4 – The End: Restoration

Palmetto Place provides a safe home and resources for children to mend and grow.  Sometimes counseling is the most effective therapy for children, and sometimes we get a bit creative.

Jill, who has worked with Palmetto Place children for many years, describes a few ways in which Palmetto Place helps our children grow:

  • Pet Therapy
  • Mindful Meditation Classes
  • Self-Esteem Groups

“I've met many children,” says Jill, “Children who turn their trauma into hope or goals or survival.  Group homes are doing great things, but this is what makes Palmetto Place extra special.”

 

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Home Is Where Your... Wait. Where is "home"?

By Jill Lawson.In addition to providing case management and adjustment counseling for Palmetto Place residents, Jill is a high school social worker, where she works mostly with at-risk students.

You’ve heard the phrase many times: “Home is where your heart is.” I know I use the word “home” multiple times a day, but recently I’ve been thinking about this very one word that has such a profound meaning.

Every day, at my full-time job, I hear teens say “I’m going to the house.” or “I stay at {insert neighborhood name}.” I never hear “I’m going home,” or, “I live at…” Why is that?

Many of my students, for a multitude of reasons, are Unaccompanied Youth. Most couch surf, meaning they are basically homeless and lying their head wherever they can at night until something better comes along. They lack a sense of home. For example, you know that uneasiness you feel if you’re staying away from your own bed for a few nights--maybe due to renovations, or a business trip? Imagine feeling this way every day. I simply can’t.

Fortunately, Palmetto Place is able to provide a home for four Unaccompanied Youth. Palmetto Place is not just a place to stay. It is a home to 20 kids who, for various reasons, have been displaced from their usual place of residency. After I thought about that word, home, I started listening to what our kids say.

“Ms. Jill, when we get home can I show you my project?!”

“Palmetto Place feels like home to me, now, and I feel safe.”

Our goal is to provide the three foundations of Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs--physiological care, safety/security, and love/belonging--so that our residents can achieve the top two portions of the pyramid--self-esteem and self-actualization. But Palmetto Place doesn't just provide a sense of home for our residents. Our house feels like home to our staff, as well! Personally, I can’t think of any other place that I would rather spend holidays than with my Palmetto Place family. Home and family. That’s what we are about.

The Power of A Good Night's Sleep

By Erin Hall, Executive Director Take just a moment with me and think about sleep. Think about your bed: sheets that smell like clean laundry, a great pillow, a warm quilt, maybe a fluffy comforter. Most nights I sleep pretty well. I wake up early when I’m stressed about kids or something else work related. I have trouble sleeping if I‘m worried about my own family.

Sounds just like you, right?

Our kids at Palmetto Place have pretty, colorful sheets, good pillows, quilts and blanket galore thanks to great folks like you who are talented and giving.

But their worries are different from mine. They’re worried about if mom is in a homeless shelter somewhere, if she’s eaten, maybe wondering where a sibling is or if that sibling is getting better in the hospital after being abused. They’re worried about how long they’ll be in foster care, or if their friends at school will find out they are in foster care. They’re worried about Santa finding them, will the Tooth Fairy come and, sometimes, who is this Easter Bunny everyone is talking about.

So when Jonathan Williams from Need By Need asked what Palmetto Place needed, I thought mattresses were pretty high on our list. Little did I know what that would lead to.

Over the past couple of months, Jonathan and Need By Need have been working hard to raise funds to buy us 10 mattresses. This past Saturday they were delivered and Jonathan and I had some great helpers for the big mattress move in.

mattresses

Four teenage boys offered to help and boy did they work! They hauled out 10 old mattresses and hauled in 10 brand new pillow-top mattresses. Each of the four picked out their own mattress. It was no doubt the first new mattress they’d ever had. One of our bunk beds is brand new, built by Dane &  Jeff, which makes the new mattress even more exciting. New mattress AND new bed!

new bed

Ever seen a teenage boy hurry to make his bed? These four had their mattresses in place and beds made perfectly before I had a chance to turn around. And each boy immediately tried out his new bed.

Feet1

Palmetto Place teaches me something new every day – usually it’s that I’ve taken something for granted. A mattress! The power of a new mattress. The power of picking out your own new mattress and putting it on your bed and laying down on it.

I just stood and smiled at these boys enjoying this wonderful gift from Need By Need. I had no idea what this gift really meant – it wasn’t a new mattress. It was a good night’s sleep.

Thank you, Jonathan and Need by Need. You gave a lot of kids a good night’s sleep and we are grateful.

Home is where the heart is

The Life of a Potato

Today's post is from Jill Lawson, our counselor, who always finds amazing creative ways to help our kids. What better way to start a group on Diversity with our residents than to get creative with a sack of potatoes. Our kids all have an array of life stories – different ways they grew up, different skin colors, different values, different preferences, different experiences.

How could I convey to them that although everyone is different, they all have something in common and respect is required?

Each kid blindly grabbed a potato from a sack and had to quietly come up with their potato’s life story – how it got its markings, indentions, dimples, scars, etc. Keep in mind that the kids participating ranged from 6 years to 18 years of age so you can imagine the “potato life stories” we heard. One potato was a super power monster. Ha!

Eric came to group with ear buds in listening to music and I was worried he wouldn’t participate. Side note: Eric is 17 and is in a self-contained class and struggles with reading and writing skills, but is extremely street smart (for lack of a better word). He’s a pleasant teenager with high ambitions in life. When it was Eric’s turn to tell his potato’s life story he said “my potato grew up in a home where his parents had fights and his stepdad beat him. He went to school and didn’t make good grades, got into fights, joined a gang, and was in foster care. My potato has bruises on the outside and the inside. But he got a good job and made it out.”

I was in total shock! This opened up the conversation for us to explore resiliency and perseverance despite our hardships and battles. It also allowed us to acknowledge that we all have experienced different events in life that will forever make an impression. Like potatoes, our scars and markings are all different but we all have something in common – whether we are all trying to make a difference and survive life’s curveballs or we are all residents of the same household but for different reasons.

We ended the group by discussing how we can respect others even though they are different from us or may have different values and backgrounds.

“Be kind. For everyone is fighting a battle.”